|Friday, Mar 25, 2011|
Over the weekend of March 12 & 13, more than 1,000 visitors to Andersonville National Historic Site enjoyed clear skies and comfortable temperatures for the park’s annual Civil War Living History Weekend. Volunteers, living historians and reenactors channeled the spirit of their American ancestors to help visitors understand the lives of Union and Confederate soldiers at the actual site of the Camp Sumter military prison, the largest and most infamous prison of the American Civil War.
Dozens of volunteers traveled from Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts to portray Union soldiers captured and held at Andersonville in 1864-65. Members of the Second 2nd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters served as Confederate Guards. Volunteers and staff from Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park delivered several artillery demonstrations each day. Through this program, visitors had the opportunity to directly ask questions about the operation of the prison, its overcrowding, and the lives of the men imprisoned there.
On Saturday evening, a candlelight tour was held in the Andersonville National Cemetery. The free tours were filled to capacity, and visitors heard stories of the Civil War graves and the establishment of the cemetery at the end of the war in 1865. Historic characters portrayed included Clara Barton and Corporal James Gooding of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.
Two authors were also present at the National Prisoner of War Museum during the weekend. Bob O'Connor, author U.S. Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison, and Barry Brown, co-author of Crossroads of Conflict, a new guide to Civil War sites in Georgia. Each discussed their books with visitors and added a broader perspective to the stories told at the park.
“With the beginning of the Civil War sesquicentennial, the Living History Weekend provides visitors a unique opportunity to gain perspectives on the experience of prisoners of war here and in other places during the conflict,” said Superintendent Brad Bennett.